Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Beautiful Undermine

Bush's recent mercury rule will, according to a source I've yet to find online (heard on Unfiltered as well) allow 55,000 more tons of mercury into the air than what would've happened had the rule promulgated under Clinton been enacted and worked under until today. The additional problem: a University of Texas study (to be published in Health & Place) links mercury and autism. BUT, to me, the larger finding (missed on most of the news reports) is that mercury levels is more generally connected to the number of special education classes and autism. This aligns with a conference presentation I saw some years ago pointing out that living within 20-50 miles of a point source of air pollution (esp. lead) (a point source is simply a place where there is a localized output into a system, such as a smokestack) has an immensely strong correlation to lower test scores. As a percentage of population, minorities (blacks, latinos, and even, I believe, nth-generation Asians) are something like twice as likely to live within 50 miles of a point source; but the pattern holds for all races, it's simply that as a percentage, whites are much less likely to live that close to a point source. Relatedly, River Rouge here (er, home, there) in Michigan has, I think, the highest ground lead concentration in the US, and also has the lowest test scores (in Michigan or in the US, I don't remember). Coincidence? (Answer: no.)

Bonus thing: didn't see it, but an Air America caller recommended listening to Roscoe Bartlett's (R-Maryland) floor speech in the House against ANWR drilling. (I assume all of you know ANWR drilling was approved today.) The caller said it was a great speech, sounding like the lectures the caller (an environmental geologist) used to give, or like "some radical environmentalist" like "Paul Ehrlich." (Paul, a Stanford professor of ecology and a relatively famous and widely cited member of the scientific academy, just doesn't fit my personal definition of an environmental radical. I'm pretty sure the number of research facilities he's broken into to free the animals plus the number of oil company executive offices he's firebombed is less than 3. EarthLiberationFront he's not (which is probably a good thing). But then again, he does propose "radical" breaks with current (anti-)environmental policies, and "radical" these days is anything straying out of rightist doctrine, so there you go. However, if you're daring enough to be interested in some of his better "radical" work, this is one of my "popular science" favorites. Judge for yourself.)

Super bonus thing: random old website I found with good, documented Bush problems (and a "countdown to redefeating Bush" clock increasing into the negatives). We still need to convince new people to our side, to oppose Bush in the present and to keep Jeb Bush the hell away from the White House! (Or big Bush supporter Rudy Giuliani.)

Remain a proud member of the reality-based community!

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